Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pope Benedict's new message in support of the family

Vatican Information Services report 29 MAR 2011on a Message from Pope Benedict to the heads of the Episcopal commissions for the family and life in Latin America and the Caribbean who are meeting in Bogota , Colombia , from 28 March to 1 April under the presidency of Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Pope Benedict writes, 

"the family is the value the people of those noble lands prize most highly. For this reason, the pastoral care of families has an important place in the evangelising activity of each one of the particular Churches, promoting a culture of life and working to ensure the rights of families are recognised and respected".

  "Nonetheless, we sorrowfully note that families are increasingly suffering from adverse situations brought about by rapid cultural changes and social instability, by migratory flows, by poverty, by education programmes which trivialise sexuality and by false ideologies. We cannot remain indifferent before such challenges".

Benedict XVI assures the prelates that "no effort is in vain if it helps to ensure that each family, founded on the indissoluble bond between a man and a woman, carries out its mission as a living cell of society, seedbed of virtues, school of constructive and peaceful coexistence, instrument of harmony and a privileged area in which, with joy and responsibility, human life is welcomed and protected, from beginning to natural end".

"It is also worthwhile to encourage parents in their right - and their fundamental duty - to educate the new generations in faith and in the values that dignify human existence", he writes.

The full text of Pope Benedict's message can be viewed on this link

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Huge increase reported in Mexico City abortions

The Population Council praised what it called the “extraordinary” results of legalized abortion in Mexico City. In less than four years, 55,000 abortions have been performed in the Mexican capital.
Abortion is legal in Mexico City up until the 12th week of pregnancy.

Sandra Garcia, a representative of the Population Council, also applauded the city's health care system for the high marks it received from various organizations, reported the newspaper Milenio on March 23.
President of Voz Publica, Leticia Gonzales Luna, later spoke with CNA lamenting that there “has been no follow-up as to how abortion clinics are operating in the Federal District.”

“That the deaths of 50,000 children are a success does not mean they are a success for women,” Gonzalez Luna said. She noted that the organizations that sponsored the studies leading to the legalization of abortion in Mexico City are the same organizations “selling the instruments to perform the procedure.”
“The survey presented by Sandra Garcia is from an agency that is the principal abortion clinic in the world,” Gonzalez Luna explained. They would never draw attention to “something that goes against what they promote.”
“It is sad that the deaths of so many thousands of children are applauded. It is a shame that Mexico City is becoming a tourist city for abortion,” she added.

“A woman who has aborted is a victim who tends to abort again.” She “is caught in a cycle of pain that she tries to get out of by justifying what she is has done and encouraging others to do the same,” Gonzalez Luna explained.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pro-life fight in the Phillipines

Human Life International report that the controversial "Reproductive Health (RH) Bill" has failed to pass on the final day of the legislative session of the Filipino House of Representatives. The bill, which was heavily promoted by Western Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) who were furiously campaigning for its passage during "National Women's Month," is not dead, however, and will likely be taken up in the next session, which begins in May.

"All of the wealthy NGOs who saw this as their best chance to pass the RH bill are discouraged that they still don't have a majority in this pro-life, pro-family country," said Rene Bullecer, MD, country director for Human Life International (HLI) Philippines. "Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent, but they have not been able to overcome the power of truth and of prayer. Still, we know that they will not give up and that their pockets are bottomless, so we still have lots of work to do before the next session begins."

The bill, sometimes also called the "Responsible Parenthood" bill, has been denounced unanimously by every pro-life and pro-family organization in the Philippines.

"The arrogance of sterile Western elites trying to tell Filipinos how to be 'responsible parents' is truly stunning," said Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula, interim president of Human Life International. "But Christians are united against the bill. The Catholic Church is seeing strong leadership from its bishops and priests, and they are standing united with fellow Christians around the Philippines. They realize the mortal threat that the RH bill represents to their families and their future, and the more that people learn about it, the more vehemently they oppose it."

"This is definitely a victory for life and family," said Monsignor Barreiro. "But it is only temporary -- it is not the end of the war. We and our partners will continue to grow the opposition to this destructive bill

Monday, March 28, 2011

Elections to Ireland's Senate

Now that the general election to Ireland's main house of parliament the Dail  have taken place and the new government has taken office the next step is the holding of elections to the Senate (Seanad)

Elections to the Seanad (Upper House of representatives in Ireland) will take place next month, on 27 April.   The Seanad fulfills a very important aspect of government, and it is vital that people of integrity are elected to be members of that body.   There are various methods of being nominated for election to the Seanad, from a number of panels.  One of these panels is the National University of Ireland (NUI) panel, and those who have graduated from any of the constituent colleges and associated colleges of NUI are entitled to vote for candidates in this area.   If, therefore, you or anybody whom you know is a graduate of any of the institutions listed below you may vote for one or more of the twenty-seven candidates on the NUI panel.

We need a powerful, capable and honest person in the Seanad who will speak out for the protection of all human life from conception to natural death.   Please, therefore, give very serious consideration to giving your No. 1 vote to Rónán Mullen   

Rónán Mullen (Senator from 2007 to the present time) is one of those on the NUI panel who is presenting himself for re-election to the Seanad. 
Senator Mullen is –
Independent Member of Seanad Éireann, representing graduates of the National University of Ireland;
Member of the Irish Parliamentary Delegation to the Council of Europe at Strasbourg, 2010;
Lecturer, Law and Communications, Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown;
Called to the Bar, 2003;
Former President, NUI Galway Students Union;
Member of Board of Directors, Daughters of Charity Community Services.

As a Senator, Rónán initiated the first ever Oireachtas debate on end-of-life care.  Addressing members of the Seanad in September 2010, Rónán said: ‘Our society does not pay sufficient attention to the welfare of those receiving end-of-life care.’   He called on the Government to ensure that there were national guidelines operating in all acute and community hospitals for end-of-life care issues.  He asked for measures to allow people to die in their homes where this was their wish, and for resources to allow more people access comprehensive hospice services in the community.

In October 2010 Rónán, together with Luca Volonte, Chairperson of the European
People’s Party at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, was responsible for pushing through 29 amendments to a report which sought to restrict severely the right of medical staff to conscientiously object to certain medical procedures, including abortion.   Rónán and his colleagues transformed the report to affirm the right of conscientious objection.   This was a major victory for pro-life.

There are many other areas of work and interest in which Rónán is involved, such as political reform, education, the prison system, supporting families and children, the Irish language, etc.  You can find more information by contacting him at, or by logging on to his website,

Are you a graduate of any of the following institutions?  
If so, have you received your voting papers?   If you haven’t yet received your voting papers please contact the National University of Ireland at 01-4392424 (Ireland); or 00353-1-4392424 (outside Ireland). 
Alternatively, you can enquire from Senator Mullen via email (as given above), or ph. 01-6183930 (or 00353-1-6183930 from outside Ireland).

NUI colleges:
NUI Galway (UCG)
NUI Maynooth
University College, Dublin
University College, Cork

NUI-recognised colleges:
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland       (from July 1977 onwards)
National College of Art and Design          (from 1996 onwards)
Milltown Institute                                      (from January 2004 onwards
Shannon College of Hotel Management   (from November 2000 onwards)
Institute of Public Administration             (from July 2001 onwards)
St. Angela’s College of Education, Sligo  (from April 1978 onwards)

Graduates of colleges (who received NUI-recognised degrees):
St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth                (1910 to 1997)
Mary Immaculate College of Education    (17 April 1975 to start October 1994)
Our Lady of Mercy College, Carysfort      (17 April 1975 onwards)
St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra              (17 April 1975 to start October 1995)
Thomond College of Education, Limerick (9 December 1976 to 16 December 1977)
NIHE, Limerick                                          (11 March 1976 to 15 December 1977)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spurious tactics used in gaining support for statement on sexual orientation?

Further to my report on the statement on sexual orientation and gender identity made at the Human Rights Council in Geneva (see link to my BLOG) it now appears that the United States took a prominent part in the promulgation of the statement. According to a US State Department release (see this link) a core group of over 30 countries engaged in discussions and sought signatures from other UN member states for the statement. In many places, United States diplomats joined diplomats from other states for these conversations.
According to the website the United States actually co-chaired the core group of countries that worked to submit this statement, along with Colombia and Slovenia.

This statement, according to the website, adds new references not seen in previous LGBT statements at the UN, including: welcoming attention to LGBT issues as a part of the Universal Periodic Review process, noting the increased attention to LGBT issues in regional human rights fora, encouraging the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue addressing LGBT issues, and calls for states to end criminal sanctions based on LGBT status.

The State Department release also says that 20 countries joined this statement that were neither signatory to the 2006 or 2008 statements.

 This statement should also be viewed in the context of an article by Terrence Mc Keegan of C-Fam; US Accused of Falsely Stating Vatican Position to Win Votes for Resolution” The US Department of State according to the Mc Keegan article,

"is telling Latin American delegations to the United Nations that the Vatican has changed its position on a sexual orientation declaration that was just released at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, according to diplomatic sources in New York."

According to these sources, an official in Western Hemisphere Affairs at the US State Department has held a series of meetings with Latin American delegations telling them the Vatican now supports the declaration calling for “sexual orientation and gender identity” to be new categories of non-discrimination in international law. However, a high ranking source at the Holy See says these assertions are false and that the Holy See opposes the declaration being considered in Geneva."

The Holy See objections to the statement were subsequently set out fully by Archbishop Tomasi. The full text of Archbishop Tomasi's statement is available on this link to

The addition of 20 countries to the list of countries supporting the statement must therefore be viewed in the light of the misinformation resulting from these contacts. Even with the addition of these 20 countries however counter statements by the OIC the African Group and the Russian Federation together equal or exceed the number of countries supporting the issue

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Romania: "March for Life"

Romania: "March for Life" - for the first time in 3 cities, at the same time

The Provita movement in Romania has organised three separate marches  this year
for Saturday, 26th of March. 
They hope to turn the 2011 "March for Life" into a large scale event by holding the marches  simultaneously in the capital city Bucharest and two other big Romanian cities, Timisoara and Satu Mare.

The slogan of this year's "March for life" is "Say YES to life!". The main message will be focused on making people aware of the need to protect the unborn life, in a country with a sad history on the matter. Romania has the highest abortion rate in the EU and the second highes in Europe.

Over 20 pro-vita and pro-family NGOs have joined their forces in organizing the march. The main organizers are: "Gift of Life" Association (RC Church - a Human Life International branch) and "Pro-vita Federation" (Christian-Orthodox Church).

For the first time, the march will be an interfaith one.

The organisers say that following several isolated events organized in the past years,  mostly on the 1st of June, they decided to move the date of the march closer to the holy day of Annunciation hoping that this would prove beneficial, not only for joining the countries with a rich tradition in pro-life activity, but also for eliminating the confusion regarding the date of June, 1st, used as a means of propaganda and thus deprived of its original meaning, during communist governance.

the organisers also say that on this occasion they will publish a manifesto addressed to the Romanian society, political parties, and  to members of
parliament .

Organ donation

A letter in the Irish Times (8 March 2011) refers to the proposal in the recently published Programme for Government 2011-2016 of the newly-elected Irish Government that the existing ‘opt-in’ system of organ donation should be changed to an ‘opt-out’ system instead.   The letter-writer says:

‘…As has been well flagged by the Irish Kidney Association and other bodies, there are flaws with an opt-out system.  Statistics show that in countries where the system has been tried, no discernible difference was made to the rate of transplants.  An opt-out scheme would obviously increase the number of potential donors – but it is pointless having potential donors when the environment in which our health service operates is still hopelessly ill-equipped for the donating and harvesting of organs. …’

This is what the new Programme for Government says:

‘We [Fine Gael and the Labour Party] will legislate to change the organ donation [system] to an opt-out system for organ transplantation, rather than an opt in system so as to improve the availability of organs for patients in desperate need.’

That doesn’t sound very reassuring, now, does it?  

Using the opt out system a person is presumed to have consented to donate his or her organs after death unless he or she has specified otherwise.
This is an area of deep concern as it also involves the issue of the definition of death

An article published in the New England Journal of Medicine has re-opened the debate about the ethics of organ donation. The article warns that organs can be - and are being - harvested from the bodies of patients who cannot be convincingly termed 'dead'. The authors do not oppose organ harvesting on these grounds, stating:

The uncomfortable conclusion to be drawn from this literature is that although it may be perfectly ethical to remove vital organs for transplantation from patients who satisfy the diagnostic criteria of brain death, the reason it is ethical cannot be that we are convinced they are really dead.
very worrying


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

French teacher suspended for arranging debate on abortion

The European center for law and justice ECLJ report on the case of a French teacher who has been suspended for arranging arranging a debate which looked at both sides of the abortion issue in France
The following is the  ECLJ release on the issue

ECLJ - Strasbourg, March 23, 2011.

Mr Philippe Isnard, a teacher of history and geography at Manosque, France, was suspended for four months on 23rd November 2010 and is currently undergoing disciplinary proceedings for showing his students videos and pictures on abortion while discussing French abortion law. Mr. Isnard’s story not only raises issues as to the neutrality of the national education on the issue of right to life and abortion but also impartiality of the media as Mr Isnard has fallen victim to censorship and misrepresentation. Mr. Isnard may be dismissed.
The teacher points out that the French history, geography and civics curriculum requires teachers to organise debates on social issues, including contradictory documents. Like every year, Mr Isnard organised one such debate on abortion in October 2010, inviting students to participate and provide their own material if they wished. He introduced several documents and films to highlight both sides of the topic. He discussed the text of the 1975 abortion law, read a speech by Simone Veil defending the legislation and played short documentaries to the class (“Sois un homme”, “SOS, femme en détresse” and “No need to argue”) as well as showing an image of a 12 week old foetus.
This information was not imparted by Mr. Isnard against the will of the students as the students had the option to abstain from watching the film and viewing the photos if they so wished. The students – aged about 15-16 years old - were not obliged to remain in the classroom for the debate. Mr Isnard never prevented anyone from expressing themselves and respected all his students, and tried to deliver information from a scientific point of view.  The aim was not to shock but to spread the truth, science and to educate his students. This information would hopefully lead to the prevention of abortion among the youth.
Nevertheless, despite this pluralist, critical and objective approach assumed by Mr Isnard in the classroom, he has been subjected to disciplinary proceedings.
Based on a denunciation from pro-abortion activists, the French education minister has denounced the teacher’s alleged actions asserting. “What has happened is unacceptable. Professors are under obligation to respect neutrality, and to have respect for the person.” Mr Philippe Isnard has been immediately suspended for four months, and may be permanently removed from the French national education administration.
On the 9th of March there was a joint disciplinary committee hearing for Mr Isnard after an investigation took place. The committee will make a non-binding decision as to whether Mr Isnard should be permanently removed from the national education administration. Mr Isnard asked the ECLJ to testify in his favour. The decision is expected to take several weeks.
It is clear that Mr Isnard was instigating an informative debate amongst his students by also issuing them with pro-choice documentation in the classroom as well as the ‘No need to argue film’. Mr Isnard was not targeted for distributing the documents containing the text of the Veil law (1975 French law decriminalising abortion) or other pro-choice material. On the contrary, it is solely the transmission of the pro-life material which led to his suspension. This favouring of the distribution of information on pro-choice rather than pro-life information raises serious questions regarding the supposed principle of neutrality in the French education system with regard to the right to life.
In order to counterbalance the debate, the school invited Planned Parenthood to come to the school to “explain” abortion rights. The students were taken in groups of five and given two hour seminars to this effect.
After Mr Isnard was suspended, his students have all expressed their support for their teacher, signing a petition of support.

Statement on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity meets firm resistance at Human Rights Council in Geneva

The debate on the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action at the Human rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday was used by a loose coalition of member States to launch a statement on  "ending acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity"

Columbia presenting the document  on behalf of the group indicated that it had the support of 82 States. The Columbian statement recalled previous statements made in the Human Rights Council in 2006 and in the General Assembly in 2008. Three counter statements were made opposing the Columbian statement, one by the Organisation of Islamic Conference the OIC group delivered by Pakistan, one by the African Group delivered by Nigeria and one by the Russian Federation.

In making the OIC statement Akim Vetikhar Ahmed of Pakistan reaffirmed the counter statement delivered at the 71st meeting of the 63 session of the General Assembly in New York in 2008 referring to the so called notion of sexual orientation and the misrepresentation of the concept of gender. He also asserted that the Vienna Declaration does not include such notions

 Grigory Luki Yantsev on behalf of the Russian Federation rejected all forms of discrimination against any group  and while agreeing that this is a sensitive issue said that the Federation do not agree with those countries that have turned the protection of persons on the basis of sexual orientation into a tool for promoting corresponding lifestyles and behaviour

Mr Ositadinma Anaedu of Nigeria on behalf of the African Group told the meeting there was no consensus on the issue of sexual orientation and traced the history of attempts to include it back to the Durban meeting in 2001 where it was rejected and it has been continuously rejected in both the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly whenever the issue was raised. He told the meeting that this is an undefined concept and the African heads of Government had reached an agreement at their 2010 meeting not to accept undefined terms. He told the meeting that his group resent the attempt at the imposition of values on them that they do not share.

The US delegation strongly advocated for LGBT rights and said they were proud to join the countries supporting the sexual orientation and gender identity declaration, comparing the initiative to the struggle for democracy in other parts of the world, for example, in the Middle East. The US delegate stated that the declaration "creates no new rights".

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi made a statement opposing the initiative saying that the Church, and other people of conscience, understand that sexuality is a gift that should only be understood and expressed within its genuine context, between one man and one women in a committed marriage. Archbishop Tomasi also clarified misunderstandings and misuse of terminology that permeate this debate at the UN.

The Holy See he said “wishes to affirm its deeply held belief that human sexuality is a gift that is genuinely expressed in the complete and lifelong mutual devotion of a man and a woman in marriage. Human sexuality, like any voluntary activity, possesses a moral dimension : it is an activity which puts the individual will at the service of a finality; it is not an “identity”. In other words, it comes from the action and not from the being, even though some tendencies or “sexual orientations” may have deep roots in the personality. Denying the moral dimension of sexuality leads to denying the freedom of the person in this matter, and undermines ultimately his/her ontological dignity.  This belief about human nature is also shared by many other faith communities, and by other persons of conscience”

Archbishop Tomasi also told the meeting that the Holy See wished “to call attention to a disturbing trend in some of these social debates: People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behaviour between people of the same sex. When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature, which may also be expressions of religious convictions, or state opinions about scientific claims, they are stigmatised, and worse -- they are vilified, and prosecuted. These attacks contradict the fundamental principles announced in three of the Council’s resolutions of this session.  The truth is, these attacks are violations of fundamental human rights, and cannot be justified under any circumstances”.

Abortion's Ethics

Zenit. Org this week published an article under the heading abortion’s ethics; “An Appeal to Reason" by Father John Flynn, LC, in which he reviews Christopher Kaczor's book "The Ethics of Abortion: Women's Rights, Human Life and the Question of Justice," (Routledge).
Fr Flynn writes
Defenders of the right to abortion often criticize pro-lifers for trying to impose their religious beliefs on others. While religion does provide cogent arguments in this debate it's far from the whole story, as a recent book establishes.

Christopher Kaczor, in "The Ethics of Abortion: Women's Rights, Human Life and the Question of Justice," (Routledge), takes a philosophical look at abortion and explains why it is not ethically justifiable.
One of the key points Kaczor addresses is when personhood begins. Some advocates of abortion argue that you can distinguish humans from persons. An example he gives is that of Mary Anne Warren, who offers a number of criteria needed before we can say someone is a person.
She proposes that persons have consciousness of objects and events and the capacity to feel pain. They also have the power of reason and the capacity for self-motivated activity, along with the capacity to communicate.

In replying to such an argument Kaczor pointed out that, using such criteria, it would be hard to argue against infanticide, as a newborn baby doesn't fulfill these criteria any more than an unborn fetus.
Moreover, we do not cease to be persons when we are asleep or under sedation for surgery, even though at that time we are not conscious or in movement. As well, those with dementia or the disabled don't satisfy Warren's criteria for personhood.

Another approach to justifying abortion it that based on location, that is, whether you are within or outside the uterus. Kaczor contended that personhood is more than a matter of location. If we were to admit this argument then it follows that when there is artificial fertilization outside the womb, the new being has the status of personhood, but then loses it when implanted in the womb, only to regain it again when it has left the womb.

Then there are also instances of open fetal surgery, during which the human fetus is sometimes brought outside the uterus. If we determine personhood by existence outside the womb then it commits us to the implausible view that in such cases the fetus is a non-person who then becomes a person, and then becomes a non-person again when returned to the uterus, only to become a person again at birth.
Excluding location as a criteria for being considered a person, Kaczor then debated the question of whether personhood is established at some point between conception and birth. Viability, that is if the fetus in utero is potentially capable of living outside the mother's womb, was referred to by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade as one way to determine if human fetuses deserve some legal protection, he noted.
Yet, there are problems with such a position, according to Kaczor. For example, conjoined twins sometimes depend on each other for life and nevertheless both are considered to be persons.
Viability also poses a problem because fetuses in wealthy countries with advanced health care become viable before fetuses in poor countries. And female fetuses become viable before male fetuses. Should differences of sex and affluence have a bearing on personhood?
Another approach is to consider that the capacity to suffer pain or enjoy pleasure is when we could mark the beginning of a right to life, Kaczor continued. This isn't sufficient either, he responded. It excludes those who are under anesthesia or in coma. Moreover, he said, some animals have this capacity but we do not consider that they have a right to life.
A possible fallback position in this argument is saying that not all beings have the capacity to feel pleasure or pain, so that only those with a higher degree of sentience and a more developed capacity to pursue interests are to be considered persons, Kaczor explained.
The problem with this, he pointed out, is that persons differ greatly in their capacity for pain or pleasure and we can hardly conclude that this provides a ground to consider that they differ radically in terms of personhood or rights.

A pro-choice response to the above critiques takes the form of the gradualist view. Kaczor said that this consists in arguing that the right to life gradually increases in strength as the pregnancy develops, and the more similar a fetus is to persons like ourselves the greater protection it should have.
Nevertheless, Kaczor noted that there is a difference in the right to life and other rights. There are age restrictions on voting, driving, or being elected to public office. This happens because the right involved implicates an ability to discharge the responsibilities that comes with it.
The right to life, however, does not implicitly contain any corresponding responsibilities and so can be enjoyed regardless of age or mental capacities.
Another problem with the gradualist approach is that human development hardly ends with birth. If moral status were linked to physiological development then killing a 14-year-old requires a greater justification than killing a 6-year-old.
The failure of such arguments, Kaczor affirmed, leads us to the conclusion that, if there are no ethically relevant differences between human beings of various stages of development that render some as non-persons, then the dignity and value of the human person does not begin after birth, nor at some point during gestation. Thus, all human beings are also human persons.
History provides us the many examples of the need to respect all human beings as persons having dignity. Virtually no one today, at least in the West, Kaczor argued, would defend slavery, misogyny, or anti-Semitism. Are we really justified in treating some human beings as less than persons, or will we be judged by history as just one more episode in the long line of exploitation of the powerful over the weak?

This gives rise to the question of whether human beings begin to exist at conception. This is not primarily a moral question, but a scientific one, according to Kaczor. He went on to quote from a number of scientific and medical texts, all of which affirm that with conception there is the start of a new human life and that there is a fundamental change with the creation of a being with 46 chromosomes.

After fertilization no outside agency is present that changes the newly conceived organism into something else. Rather, the human embryo is self-developing towards its future state.
"Speaking analogously, the human embryo is therefore not merely a detailed blueprint of the house that will be built but a tiny house that constructs itself larger and more complex through its active self-development towards maturity," Kaczor elucidated.

After this the later chapters of the book look at a number of arguments used by defenders of abortion. One by one he examines them and points out their weaknesses.
For example, it has been argued that because in the early stages it is possible for twinning to occur, the embryo is not an individual human being. Kaczor replied to this by arguing that even if one being can be divided into two beings this does not mean that it was never an individual being.
After all, he added, most plants can give rise to further individual plants, but this does not mean a plant cannot be an individual, distinct plant.
He also examined the hard cases, such as pregnancy as a result of rape or incest. 
The personhood of the fetus, Kazcor insisted, does not depend on the way in which it was conceived. "You are who you are regardless of the circumstances of your conception and birth," he said.

Kazcor's densely-reasoned book contains many more carefully thought-out arguments, making it a valuable resource for all those concerned about protecting human life.

Link to ZENIT .org article

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The relationship between Church and State

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Diarmuid Martin, addressed a meeting at the Mater Dei Institute in Dublin recently, on the subject of ‘The relationship between Church and State’.     Although in what he said (and it was a lengthy talk!) there is much with which I would disagree, I would like to offer the following encouraging excerpts:

‘ …The Church lives and acts within the cultural situation of time and place.  Reflections on Church-State relations in Ireland today require us to examine the policies of government and of the political parties, but also involve looking at the self-understanding of the Church in Ireland. 
‘ … the paradoxical thing is that the farther the Church goes in adapting to the culture of the times, the greater the danger is that it will no longer be able to confront the culture of the time.  It will only be able to speak the language of the culture of the day and not the radical newness of the message of the Gospel which transcends all cultures.  Where this happens, then the life of the Church becomes a sort of civil religion, politically correct, but without the cutting edge of the Gospel. …

The Church must always have the internal freedom to take positions that are culturally unpopular.  The message and the measure of the Gospel should challenge every form of conformism.  It is important to remember that conformism can be an expression of narrow conservatism but that there is also conformism which thinks that it is truly progressive. …
‘Renewal in the Church … is renewal in what is essential to the life of the Church.  The Church is not just a sociological reality which can be renewed simply by the application of sociological models of consultation and change management. …

‘It is important in reflecting on childcare that there have been many cases where parental neglect has resulted in serious damage to children.  We need mechanisms to ensure that the rights of children are adequately protected.  But in general it would be wrong to think that simply moving responsibility from parents to the State would provide a more effective answer.  It is not the State’s job to bring up children, it is the job of parents. …

‘We need to look at models of a more participative society where government and citizens are not seen as separate and distant poles of activity and where intermediary bodies work with State and citizens to foster what Pope John Paul II had called a “subjective society”.   Social reform will not be attained by social engineering but by enabling greater participation of citizens and the voluntary sector in the planning and delivery of services. …
‘The fundamental rights of parents are enshrined not just in our Irish Constitution but also in the major International Human Rights Instruments including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  It is important that parents become active in the process of determining what kind of pluralism they wish.  For parents to make their choice in this area they need however to have clear information about what precisely the alternative models of patronage are. …
The Irish Constitution has overall served the people of Ireland well.  Our Constitution is far from being some sort of unquestioning regurgitation of sectarian Catholic principles as some simplistic caricatures of it would seem to imply.   It is a remarkably modern Constitution in many of its aspects.  Constitutions should be and must be changed to address challenges in society but not at every whim.   Constitutions are not there in general to be played around with lightly and often.
The Irish Constitution clearly carves out a special role for the family.  The legal presumption is that the definition of the family in the Constitution is one based on marriage between a man and a woman.  In line with most European countries Ireland recognises the fundamental difference between marriage and other forms of relationship. … Marriage is … a fundamental good in society which deserves a unique protection.

‘Ireland has a unique history of Church-State relationships.  The Constitution’s guarantees regarding the sphere of activity of the Church are thoroughly modern in their juridical formulations.  Where negative results have emerged they have emerged by lack of respect for the spirit of the Constitution and by unhealthy closeness between ecclesiastical and political figures. …
‘The principal contribution of Church institutions in an increasingly secular society is, as Pope Benedict noted in an interview of some years ago, “to witness to God in a world that has problems finding Him … and to make God visible in the human face of Jesus Christ, to offer people access to the source without which our morale becomes sterile and loses its point of reference.”

[Emphasis added]

So, thank you, Archbishop, for those remarks.

There are two points raised by Archbishop Martin on which I would like to comment. The first is a question posed by him as follows: ‘Are our Catholic schools and our programmes of catechetical formation, especially at second level, equipping a future general of young Catholic Christians to be able to engage their faith in the day to day configuration of the life of society?’   To this I would answer an emphatic NO!   And I would add that much of the foundation for a good catechetical formation will already have been eroded by the Alive-O programmes in primary schools.
The second point is that not alone is it not the State’s job to bring up children – it is not the State’s right to bring up children!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Disconnect between St. Patrick's day parades and the faith he came to bring

Credit where credit is due.   During the course of a broadcast on Irish radio on St. Patrick’s Day, Cardinal Seán Brady, Primate of All-Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh, had this to say:

‘ … Today, unfortunately, the historic link between the Christian legacy of Patrick and Irish identity is often ignored, if not out-rightly denied.  This is evident in the increasing disconnect between so many Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations and the faith and hope which Patrick came to bring.  It is part of a wider European problem.  Despite the fact that the roots of European and Irish culture are profoundly Christian there are those who would prefer to deny this reality.

‘Of course there is no contradiction between confident expressions of Christian faith in the public square and a society that is tolerant of other faiths and philosophies of life.  Religious faith is very important to very many Irish people.  This fact deserves due recognition and respect in public life and policy. …’

Friday, March 18, 2011

Clash of Civilations at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

The 16th session Human Rights Council, which is entering its final week in Geneva sharply depicts the clash of civilizations in two of the resolutions, which have been tabled for agreement by the plenary

The first of these resolutions tabled by the Russian Federation
“Promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional Values of Humankind”

This resolution affirms that dignity, freedom and responsibility are traditional values, shared by the entire humanity and embodied in universal human rights instruments. It also recognizes that a better understanding and appreciation of these values contribute to protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The resolution also notes the important role of family, community, society and educational institutions in upholding and transmitting these values, which contributes to promoting respect for human rights and increasing their acceptance at grassroots […]

The resolution also requests the advisory committee to prepare a study on how a better understanding and appreciation of the traditional values of dignity, freedom and responsibility can contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights and to present this study to the Council before its 21st session.

This resolution is in stark contrast with a resolution tabled by South Africa
“ The imperative need to respect the established procedures and practices of the United Nations General Assembly in the elaboration of new norms and standards and their subsequent integration into existing international human rights law “

This resolution requires the Human Rights Council to establish a new intergovernmental working group to elaborate new concepts such as sexual orientation and, others which may emerge in this regard, defining such concepts and their scope and parameters in international human rights law

This resolution also seeks to declare that this new group shall be the sole authority within the UN system to consider the issue  
“[…] the working group shall be the single modality and framework of the UN Human Rights Council within which all the deliberations on sexual orientation including other initiatives and action shall be undertaken,”. It also wants the group to commence work before the 19th session of the Human Council and subsequently to meet annually for 10 days

There is still time to influence the outcome of both resolutions by contacting your Department of Foreign affairs and we would recommend that readers of all nationalities should do so immediately or alternatively to contact your countries’ mission in Geneva. Link to Geneva Missions

It will be fascinating to watch how these two widely different concepts of human rights are resolved in the Council plenary next week.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Appaling new Sex Education Programme

John Smeaton in his BLOG last Tuesday reported on a new and deadly sex education being rolled out globally by International Planned Parenthood.  I have substantially reprinted the article here because of its importance in raising the awareness of parents, teachers, and Churches to this major new threat.  Johns BLOG may be accessed on this link

During the recent Commission on the Status of Women sessions at the United Nations in New York , the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the Population Council and other pro-abortion groups held a meeting to present the worldwide roll-out of It’s All One Curriculum", a massive programme of so-called comprehensive sex education. Our colleagues at United Families International (UFI), who were at the meeting, reported that the meeting's moderator said:

"If we can just get this new comprehensive sex education program into every school and fully implemented around the globe, we can all stop working and go home!"

The curriculum guidelines describe its target audiences thus:
It's All One Curriculum is designed primarily for curriculum developers, schoolteachers, and community educators ... A second audience for the It’s All One Curriculum kit includes health and education policymakers and school administrators ... The content of It’s All One Curriculum was developed for young people aged 15 and older, whether in or out of school. More and more, though, experts and policymakers see the necessity of starting this type of education at earlier ages ... Many educators who teach children younger than 15 can draw on this kit to create an appropriate curriculum” (pp.6-7)
But what is perhaps more significant is the list of acknowledgments:
“Finally, we thank our donors, whose financial and collegial support made It’s All One Curriculum possible. Our sincere thanks to ... the UK Department for International Development (DfID)” (p. vi)
The UK government is the only government listed as a contributor to the curriculum.

There is also a direct link with forced abortion in China. Among the Technical Review committee was: "Tang Kun (China Family Planning Association)". The China Family Planning Association, the state-run IPPF affiliate in China, is responsible for ensuring that the one-child policy is implemented.

Yet what is of greatest - and gravest - importance is the curriculum's deeply sinister content. Below is no more than a small sample of the massive curriculum itself (with my emphases in bold and followed by my brief comments).

This curriculum is a major new worldwide threat to the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the family. Pro-lifers worldwide therefore must urgently study its content, and alert:
  • parents
  • school governors, headteachers and other educationalists
  • politicians and policy-makers
  • clergy of all denominations (especially Catholic bishops due to their enormous potential influence)
  • sympathetic media outlets
  • other pro-lifers.
Samples from "It’s All One Curriculum"

(p.32) “[J]oin organizations or groups that fight for sexual and reproductive rights using various tactics. Examples “watch groups".
This is akin to the way that people in Communist East Germany were encouraged to inform on their own family members to the Stasi secret police (Stasi monument pictured above). The Brazilian government has just set up an emergency phone line for people to report incidents of "homophobia".*
“Only when our basic rights are honored (both by governments and by other individuals) can we make meaningful choices about intimate relationships, sex, and childbearing. For example: Individuals... can have a safe abortion. They can adopt a child regardless of their marital status or sexual identity.” (p.28)
This is asserted despite the fact there is no right to abortion or homosexual adoption in international law.
"[Y]oung people who believe in "traditional" or "conservative" gender roles... tend to have more sexual health problems" (p.30)
In other words, family men are really sexually-dysfunctional hypocrites.
"Discuss how gender norms perpetuate child marriage, female genital mutilation, and violence (including sexual violence). Explain how conventional gender roles can increase the likelihood that women and girls will face HIV or other sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy. Understand that gender norms can undermine the well-being of both boys and girls." (p.43)
The curriculum exploits repeatedly concerns about health and safety in order to attack the natural family.
"Girls also suffer pressures to comply with norms of femininity, for example, to:...avoid having sex before marriage, even if they wish to." (p.49) "Rigid gender roles...contribute to suicide, violence, and many other social problems ... People who may be particularly subject to such stigma include:...women with multiple sexual partners" (p.50)
The upholding of modesty and chastity are thereby denigrated as highly dangerous.
"Despite social taboos, many young people refuse to be isolated [e.g.] sex workers." (p.57) "Around the world, women — and many men — are seeking to expand women’s and girls’ access to and control over resources [e.g.] efforts by sex workers to improve and control their working conditions."
Prostitution is therefore promoted as socially acceptable and worthy of protection.
"Marriage may also reinforce gender norms, including in ways that are unfair and harmful. Certain social movements promote greater equality and dignity within marriage. These include: movements to legalize same-sex marriage" (p.61)
Heterosexual marriage is tarred with the brush of suspicion, whereas gay marriage is lauded as great social progress.
"An educator’s own values should not interfere with teaching about sexuality ... Use respectful terms...particularly in regard to same-sex attraction, sexually active girls, and young people who do not conform to conventional gender norms ... Teachers must...respect their confidentiality." (p.81)
This is a thinly-veiled warning to teachers not to obstruct children's so-called sexual rights or children's access to secret abortions without parental knowledge or consent.
“Sexuality may be expressed by oneself ... Sexuality — expressed alone...can be a source of pleasure and meaning in life. It can enhance happiness, well-being, health, and the quality of life. (p.84) “For many people, fantasy may create or increase desire. Thinking about a sexual act is normal, not shameful.” (p.92) "[T]he rights of all persons to sexual expression. These rights include the right to seek pleasure ... Masturbation is an important way that people learn about their bodies and sexuality ... Masturbation is a safe sexual behavior. It is neither physically nor mentally harmful." (p.99)
Self-abuse is therefore regarded as a human right.
"In terms of sex, no one way to look or behave is correct, so long as consent and safety are assured." (p.87) 
This could include incest or adultery.
“Most governments, and most people, recognize the benefits of contraception and the right to use it. Most governments and health services provide contraceptive services to any individual who requests them (regardless of age, gender, or marital status)." (p.206)
Thus the youngest children should have access to artificial birth control - which then makes it all the easier for child sex abusers to conceal their crimes.
"Emergency contraception is useful ... Emergency contraception is not a method of abortion." (p.213)
Getting governmental, judicial and professional authorities to exclude morning-after pills from the category of abortion is the one of the main ways the pro-abortion lobby has been using to promote them.
“People and governments may oppose access to abortion because they ... believe that women should not have control over their own lives and fertility [or] wrongly think that making abortion safe and legal will increase sexual promiscuity or will increase abortion rates.” (p.216)
The curriculum thus shows itself to be nakedly polemical rather than educational.
"People can join national campaigns to achieve fairness and equality. Such campaigns may include those girls’ and women’s lives by decriminalizing abortion [and] ensure enforcement of laws that protect gender equality (including in the face of opposition by conservative or religious movements). ... People ecan support or join movements for social change at the global level. For example:...youth-led networks for sexual and reproductive rights and services." (p.231)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St Patrick's Day Parade New York

The New York St Patrick's day parade has always been one of the best but it will be in good company judging by the number of advertisements I have seen for parades this year. I have to wonder however in many cases are the entrants really there in honour of St Patrick or are the parades used simply an excuse to present some personal agenda.

This year in New York a great Canadian lady, a great and tireless pro-life worker, and a great Irishwoman (all in one!) will be one of those carrying a 4.5 ft x 6 ft banner of Our Lady of Knock at the head of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City on Thursday next, St. Patrick’s Feastday.   

Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, has said that he will be on the reviewing stand outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral and will be honouring Our Lady as the banner carriers approach the stand.  At the Mass, earlier, in the Cathedral, the Archbishop will lead the people in a prayer to Our Lady, Queen of Ireland and her Divine Son asking Them to bless the streets of New York as her banner passes through the city.

You can watch the Parade, as it happens, on:
from 3 pm (Irish time) onwards.   Be on the lookout for the Co. Mayo group, and don’t miss Our Lady’s banner! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Limitations on free speech

The Catholic News Agency reports that Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, has condemned the removal of a pro-life billboard that had been erected above a Mexican restaurant premises as a ‘gag order’.   The billboard depicts a little African girl, beneath the phrase ‘The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb’

Archbishop Dolan quoted a recent New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene report that 59.8 per cent of African American pregnancies in the city ended in abortion, and he said that:that figure was ‘even higher than the chilling city-wide average of 41 per cent of pregnancies ending in abortion.’

The Archbishop said that ‘being confronted by the truth can often be unpleasant’, and that the message conveyed by the billboard is so seriously true.  Commenting on those whose decision it was to remove the billboard, he asked: 

‘Are they claiming that free speech is a right enjoyed only by those who favor abortion or their pet causes?  Do they believe that unpleasant and disturbing truths should not be spoken? Or, are they afraid that when people are finally confronted with the reality of the horror of abortion, and with the toll that it is taking in our city, particularly in our African-American community, that they will be moved to defend innocent, unborn, human life?’

A good question, and one that can very well be put to authorities worldwide.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Selling out Catholic Education?

Back in January of this year (not all that long ago) Ruairi Quinn, of the Labour Party, and now Minister for Education, wrote an article in the Irish Times on the question of education.   He applauded the calls of Dr. Diarmuid Martin, Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, for ‘a national forum on patronage in primary schools’, and he particularly liked the idea of ;
‘getting from where we are, to a pluralism of choice in primary education which reflects the needs of Ireland today and into the future … a journey which we need to take.’    
Mr. Quinn was very pleased, too, about the statement from Bishop Leo O’Reilly, chairman of the Bishops’ Commission on Education.   Bishop O’Reilly said that: ‘There is a need for pluralism of education in Ireland so that parents have a choice, as far as possible, about what kind of school their children will attend.  This right to parental choice in education is recognised in most democracies and enshrined in our Constitution.’   Mr. Quinn wrote that the start of discussions between Catholic school patrons and the Department of Education about the transfer of patronage for some existing Catholic primary schools to the State ‘is a welcome development and it should be encouraged.’  (From historical reasons, the majority of primary schools is under the patronage of the Catholic Church.)   

Isn’t it wonderful how appreciative and grateful Mr. Quinn and his Party can be!    Now that Mr. Quinn is Minister for Education he won’t have to do anything nasty in order to lessen the involvement of the Catholic Church in education from now on.   ‘The answer to Bishop O’Reilly’s welcome call for pluralism’, wrote Mr. Quinn,
‘is the orderly transfer of Catholic patronage of some primary schools to other patron bodies under supervision of the Department of Education and Science.  This would reflect modern day practice and observance.  It would enable Catholic parents to have Catholic schools which would deliver Catholic education for observant Catholic parents and their children.   It would also facilitate other Catholic parents who consciously want their Catholic children to be educated within a multi-denominational ethos where they would learn openly about other religions and belief systems such as humanism and atheism.’   
He is very concerned that ‘Catholic’ parents who want their children to learn openly about humanism and atheism should have the opportunity to allow them to do so.
‘Catholic’ ?

Well, there it is in the ‘Government for National Recovery 2011-2016’ programme – the Fine Gael and Labour government ‘will initiate a time-limited Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector to allow all stakeholders including parents to engage in open debate on change of patronage in communities where it is appropriate and necessary.’

Friday, March 11, 2011

"Say Yes to Life"; March for Life Madrid Spain Saturday March 26th

A mass demonstration in Madrid will be the central act of the International Pro-life Day in Spain

It will be held on 26 March at 12.00 noon, starting at Plaza Cibeles and finishing  at Puerta del Sol.

 “Say yes to Life” will be the watchword of the march,  with which the organizing associations wish to express their common desire to defend life from conception to its natural end – that is, the recognition & defense of life is a primary human right.  

The organizers want to make this march an annual event as already happens in many other countries.

48 civil associations, at a recent press conference, announced a mass demonstration to mark International Pro-life Day, which is celebrated throughout the world on 25 March, and the agenda for numerous events which will take place around that date. Taking part in the press conference were:  Alicia Latorre, President of the Federation of Spanish Pro-life Associations, Carmina García Valdés, General Director of the Redmadre Foundation, Manuel Cruz, Director of the Vida Foundation, Gádor Joya, spokesperson of Right to Life, and Yolanda Melul, spokesperson of the Madrona Foundation.

The date announced for the celebration of life is Saturday, 26 March at 12 noon, a time suited to all those who wish to take part in the event from Madrid and its surrounding areas.